Will Hawkes: Belhadj's balls and Terry's oysters add flavour to FA Cup

View From The Sofa: FA Cup final, ITV 1
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The Independent Culture

The thing about Clive Tyldesley is that, for all that he can be a bit of an annoying twerp at times, he does have a knack of getting right to the heart of the matter. During the FA Cup final on Saturday, as Pompey's substitute John Utaka waited on the sideline, Clive showed exactly why he is so highly thought of at ITV. "Utaka by name," he portentously intoned, "and he's also a forward." Get it? Utaka sounds like attacker, which is another word for forward.

It wasn't just Clive who was on top form, though. Co-commentator Jim Beglin has an equally uncanny knack for insight. When the camera showed a close-up of David James' face as he shouted "Come on" at his Pompey team-mates in the dying moments of the game, Beglin put his lip-reading skills to use. "I think he's saying 'Come on'," revealed Jim. You don't say, Jim.

You couldn't entirely blame him for lack of inspiration, though, given that Saturday's match showed just why the FA Cup has lost its shine. Chelsea won for the third time in four years and their support seemed more interested in taking pictures on their mobile phones at the end than, you know, cheering. Even Roman Abramovich didn't seem that bothered: as the camera lingered on him after Chelsea had lifted the Cup, he clapped along uninterestedly and looked like he wanted to be somewhere else. The Champions League final, maybe?

The match pivoted on two missed penalties, so it was useful that ITV had Mr Penalty Miss himself, Gareth Southgate, in the studio to analyse. Asked about what it was like to blunder from the spot as Kevin Prince-Boateng had done earlier for Pompey, he showed incredible tact in not rubbing it in. Oh no, actually he did rub it in. "In fairness to me," he chuckled contentedly, "mine was a thunderbolt compared to his!"

The other penalty miss came courtesy of Frank Lampard, who revealed before the recent general election that he was a Tory. Maybe he's pals with those famous Blues fans John Major and David Mellor? Let's hope so. It's not known if Ann Widdecombe supports Chelsea – probably not, she looks more of a Millwall type to me – but she would have done a better job with the pen than Frank.

The missed spot-kicks allowed Tyldesley really to earn his money. "If you want a quiz question," he said, "this is the first time two penalties have been missed in a Wembley final." Great, I thought. I was just trying to think of a quiz question.

One of the reasons I was trying to think of a quiz question was to get the dismal image of Nadir Belhadj's "delicious balls", as Beglin put it, out of my head. Beglin, of course, was referring to the Algerian's impressive crossing ability but John Terry can surely have no such excuse for his comments after the match when asked about Petr Cech's penalty save. "Unbelievable. I fancied him, to be fair." Keep it in the dressing room, John.

"Phnarr, phnarr" moments aside, though, it was a pretty underwhelming Cup final, but then again they usually are. Still, there's always the World Cup to look forward to. Tyldesley reminded viewers that the international game's biggest jamboree would feature the Chelsea captain after an injury problem last week turned out not actually to be a problem. "The World Cup is John Terry's oyster," he said, slightly weirdly. Let's hope it turns out to be a little bit tastier than Saturday.